Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters


According to recent federal data from 2013, the number of children who experience homelessness in the United States has reached an astonishing 2.5 million. Among industrialized nations, America has a one of the highest poverty rates among children, peaking at 22% in 2010. This Article considers why there is an ambivalent and sometimes hostile response to chronic, persistent poverty among families with young children. Various reports on the state of homeless families state that the cause of homelessness is a combination of lack of affordable housing, extreme poverty, decreasing government support, domestic violence, the challenge of raising children alone, and insufficient working wages. Homeless families with children comprise 37% of the total homeless population, and families of color are overrepresented within this number, making up 61% of the group. This article addresses the color of child homelessness and how various theories on poverty and laws designed to assist impoverished parents have created categorizations of the deserved and the undeserved poor. In an effort to transform the poverty dialogue, this article sets forth that vulnerability theory and the principle of subsidiarity can be utilized as a means to transcend identity categories and recognize both state and community responsibility to provide more comprehensive support for homeless children within families.

Publication Title

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Document Type




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